Friday, November 16, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-75) ***

TV-Y7, 22 24-min. episodes
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Director: Hal Sutherland, Bill Reed
Writers: Gene Roddenberry, David Gerrold, Len Janson, Stephen Kandel, Chuck Menville, Margaret Armen
Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, Majel Barrett

“Star Trek: The Animated Series” is a surprisingly good entry into the annals of the Star Trek canon. It’s held back only by the animation limitations of the time period in which it was made.

Although, it was made for Saturday morning television and targeted at kids, the creators didn’t hold back on the themes and ideals of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of Star Trek. It is thoughtful and—because it is animation—the alien worlds visited by the crew of the Enterprise in their quest to observe new worlds are much more alien than the ones visited in the live action television series.

The science fiction of it all still holds up as well. The creators hold to the sci-fi format of creating commentary on our own humanity while composing future fantasy adventures. The fact that they were able to contract almost the entire regular cast of the original series to provide their voices speaks well to the content of this series. Only Walter Koenig as Chekov is missing from the proceedings; and although he would come to be considered an original cast member, it’s important to remember he didn’t join the crew of the Enterprise until season two of the original series.

Now, some of those television animation techniques of the time lead to some oddities in the presentation of this quality material. While the original cast is retained for vocal work, you might notice that William Shatner voices more than just Captain Kirk here. Most of the cast doubles up on roles in each episode so the production wouldn’t have to spend more money on other vocal talent. It becomes a little obvious when Scotty’s accent starts creeping through on an alien’s dialogue here and there.

Also, the animation is very limited. Like most of the Filmation Studio’s animation of the time period, Paramount uses a lot of stationary figures with only their lips moving in order to cut down on production time. All in all, it’s a small price to pay for the continuing adventures of the original Star Trek crew.

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